Monday, August 31, 2015

"Our Month"

August is a special month!
 For Felipe and I,  it is "Our Month," so to speak...
During the month of August we celebrate our wedding anniversary and also both our birthdays.

Today I am documenting here some photos we took while celebrating our six years of marriage and also the many years of life God has blessed us both with!
Felipe made us matching t-shirts with our favorite wedding photo in honor of our anniversary!

We were blessed with a date night on our anniversary!
Our sweet neighbors watched our girls so we could go out for dinner. Surprisingly, we ended up eating at the fanciest restaurant we have both ever been to!

Felipe really wanted to try this one certain restaurant he had researched online, but we did not know the restaurant was so fancy.  Once we arrived and were seated at our table we even debated if we should leave or not (and go somewhere cheaper), but in the end we decided to stay and enjoy.  We had never eaten at such a place, and this was the perfect occassion to celebrate us and do so.

 We ended up having an extremely special and memorable anniversary date.  It was the perfect evening with great food, a lovely atmosphere, and focused quality time together.  We spent hours in that fancy restaurant and enjoyed every minute!

I even got dessert! 

During our date we took a silly photo, just like a photo we took during our engagement days.
 Here's the result! :-)

A week after our anniversary we celebrated my birthday, which happened to be on the same day as the annual back-to-school picnic at Sophia's new school.
Once we got home from a fun day out, we made birthday brownies, placing candles on each individual brownie.  The girls loved this!  They love celebrating birthdays!

Then, this past weekend we celebrated Felipe's birthday!
The girls, the cat, and I made a silly video as a present for Felipe's birthday. If you want to watch our silliness, here it is!  It is basically just us dancing around, singing and laughing LOTS.

This video was actually made in response to an outrageously funny and ridiculous surprise video Felipe made for me for our wedding anniversary, but I won't be sharing that video here.

The girls and I had a blast making this, although Sophia bumped her head pretty badly in the middle of filming. We only realized afterwards.  She is our strong girl!

Our girls adore Felipe, and they are extremely blessed to have such a fun, present, and loving father.
Felipe is LOVED!

We praise the Lord for one more year of life, and one more year of marriage.  God, in His faithfulness and love, has done many things in our lives personally this past year and is continuing to teach and grow us individually and as a couple.

As we both look back on this past year, we recognize the many challenges, changes, and transitions we have been through, and that has not always been easy.  We have been pushed past our limits many times, but the challenges always bring us closer to the One who never changes, and for this we are thankful.

 He is leading us on this adventure and journey, and we look forward to the next year to come,
We give Him all the praise, honor, and glory!

Hope you enjoyed seeing a few of our celebration memories made during "Our Month" of August!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our Saturday Nights!

Since we have moved here to São Paulo, we have spent MANY of our Saturday nights participating in a fun Saturday night worship service!

Every other Saturday night,  the Sower House ministry (where we are volunteering for the rest of 2015) hosts a worship service for the kids, teens, and families living in a nearby slum.

We have enjoyed worshiping the Lord together with these special kids on Saturday nights.
Here are a few photos of our times together!

The Saturday night service always begins with a moment of prayer.  The kids can share praises and prayer requests, and then we take a moment to pray for the needs of the kids and families living in the slum nearby.  
Do you see Jessie playing during the prayer time in the background?  She is distracting a boy! :-)

Some of the teenage girls who participate at the ministry help lead a praise and worship time during the service.

Some nights we play Bible games!  Here is a photo of our dear friends Silvana and Robert, the coordinators of the ministry, leading a fun Bible trivia game.

There is usually a special Bible story, preaching, or testimony presented as well.   Felipe has shared a few times already at the Saturday night service. 

Sometimes the kids present special songs or dramas too.  A few children from my sweet little class of kids presented this song one Saturday.  Here is the video clip!

Some Saturday nights the Sower House ministry is packed full of children and their families, while other Saturdays less kids are present.  Whether it is a small or large crowd, it is always a fun and fruitful time together.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of our lives and what we do almost every other Saturday night!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Special Vistors in São Paulo!

This week we had two special visitors come to our home in São Paulo.  Alexandre, the leader/director of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Belo Horizonte and Erlon, a member of the leadership council at YWAM Belo Horizonte.

Youth With a Mission in Belo Horizonte has sent us here to São Paulo to start a YWAM ministry reaching out to children living in at risk situations.  These two leaders of ours came here to personally see where we are working, and what we have been doing to work towards starting a YWAM ministry.  

So, this is a little of what we did while our two leaders were here...

After sharing our ideas, dreams, hopes, and a few recent ministry developments, we took Alexandre and Erlon on a drive through the narrow streets of the two slums where we hope to start a ministry.

We showed our guests a small church in the slum that recently said they are open to working together with us!  The church is willing to allow us to use their sanctuary to run children's programs. Working with this church is a great opportunity to get to know more people in the slum, and also have a space to work in and receive children. We are excited to see how this opportunity and relationship will develop.  Hopefully more good news coming soon about that!

We also showed Alexandre and Erlon various possible ministry locations as we desire to eventually have our own ministry space instead of just borrowing a space in the church.  One of the potential ministry locations is an empty lot, that is for sale near the slum. We would then need to build a ministry center there.

 In São Paulo there are very few open lots like this one.  Obtaining and building on this lot would be expensive, but also a dream come true.  With God though, anything is possible! 

Next, we took Alexandre and Erlon to an afternoon ministry session at Casa Semear (Sower House), the ministry where Felipe and I have been volunteering since our arrival in São Paulo.  Through working at the Sower House ministry we have gotten to know other missionaries working in the city, and we have also made relationships with kids living in the nearby slums.

Here's a fun group selfie Erlon took after the children's programs concluded!
One of the main things that has impacted us through working at the Sower House is that we have seen first hand the desperate needs of the kids and teens living in the slums...
We have seen kids neglected by their families,
 kids lacking food at home,
 kids not attending school,
 kids with family members addicted to drugs,
 and kids so hungry for love, attention, and peace in their lives. 

Seeing these needs has confirmed once again to us that we are called to the slums to share the good news of the gospel with the many children and families facing extremely harsh realities. 

This season of serving at the Sower House has been very beneficial to us in so many ways, and the ministry is a great example of the kind of ministry we we hope to have in the future.  It was great to be able to personally share these experiences with our leaders.

We are thankful for this recent visit!
Alexandre and Erlon were a blessing to us, and we so appreciate that our leaders took time to visit us, encourage us, pray for us and personally oversee our work here in São Paulo, Brazil.
The São Paulo state flag.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

First Day of Kindergarten!

Yesterday was Sophia's first day of Kindergarten!

Sophia was very excited to wear her new uniform and school shoes. Doesn't she look cute?
I must admit, I got a little teary eyed at home once I saw her all dressed up in her uniform for the first time.
My baby is growing up!

Sophia is attending Pan American Christian Academy (PACA), which is an English speaking, American Christian school located about 3 miles from our home in São Paulo. Click here to read more about PACA. 
First photo taken at school, with little sister wanting to be just like big sister.
This is the theme verse for this 2015-2016 school year!

Upon arrival at school we walked Sophia to her classrom, quickly met her teacher, and found the table where she will be sitting in class.  When walking on the school campus it seems like someone has literally picked up an American school and placed it in Brazil. It is such a nice facility! 

As a former elementary school teacher, yesterday brought back so many memories of when I was a teacher.  I remember those years with so much love and joy!  Now I am on the other side.  I am not the teacher, but the parent telling my little girl goodbye and worrying how her day will be.

Will she eat her lunch?
Will she behave well? Sophia is quite the spunky girl...
Will she actually go to the bathroom when there are bathroom breaks, and not have any accidents?
Will she make new friends?

As we dropped Sophia off I suddenly began to worry over her day, flooded with these thoughts. Felipe reminded me to trust, let go, and know she will learn all these things, even if it takes time. The teachers know she is learning... He is right, and I so needed that encouragement.  

We said our goodbyes to Sophia actually on the playground, located just outside of the classroom. Every morning the children are allowed to play outside until the 8:00 a.m. bell rings.  Then the students must return to their classrooms to get ready for the school day to begin after the 8:05 a.m bell. 

Sophia gave me a quick kiss and hug goodbye on the playground and then ran back to play.  Our goodbye was very uneventful, but that's my independent and strong Sophia.

Sophia had a wonderful first day at school and returned home telling us all kinds of details about her day.  She was especially happy that her teacher read the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, one we read quite often at home.

We are super excited about Sophia's Kindergarten year, and we are so extremely thankful for the faithfulness of God's provision!
Since we are missionaries, we receive a discount rate in tuition at the school.  This is a huge blessing to us, but the monthly tuition rate is still a stretch for us financially.  
Truly, it is only because of God's provision through faithful financial supporters that we can afford to place Sophia in such an amazing school.  We are especially thankful for one couple who is specifically giving monthly towards Sophia's school fees.

Thank you to those who give to us financially and pray for our needs.  We are joyfully praising God for this opportunity, and we are extremely thankful that this need and desire for Sophia to attend a good quality school is being fulfilled.  

To God be the glory! He is a good Father! much more will your Father in heaven
give good gifts to those who ask Him!
~ Matthew 7:11b ~